There’s been an awful lot of rhetoric recently that the housing market is picking up in Dublin and that trading is brisk relative to what it was a couple of years ago. Most of that rhetoric is coming from the property sector backed up with ancedotal evidence. The question is whether this is reflected in the hard data of the house price register? Here is a graph of the number of housing unit sales per month since January 2010 for Dublin.
What the data shows is that housing unit sales are relatively consistent over the past three and a half years, except for a brief surge at the end of 2012, with December 2012 seeming to be anomaly (probably based around the ending of mortgage interest relief). The first six months of 2013 are very similar in pattern to 2010. In fact, in the first six months of 2013 only 328 more units have been sold than the first six months of 2010. The data does not suggest then that there has been a bounce back in market activity to any significant degree. What it shows instead is a relatively steady turnover of property. Market activity in terms of increased viewings on properties, but not in sales, may well reflect a relatively restricted pool of some kinds of properties (family homes; which the property sector is saying is the case).
In general terms, the sales figures reveals that the market is still a very pale shadow of the height of the boom. The Dublin housing market consists of 527,665 units (in 4 Dublin LAs according to Census 2011). Normal market turnover would be 5-7% units (higher in a boom), meaning that we could realistically expect in a normally functioning market 2200-3100 sales per month. So far in 2013 the average monthly sales is 593 (1.3% turnover).
The Dublin market may be stabilising at the bottom of the bust in terms of price falls, but it shows little sign of sales recovery, and it is a long, long way off of being a normal functioning market.